Hippopotamus: it's the only way to travel. This suave-looking heron was recently caught on camera hitching a ride on the back of a hippo at Sunset Dam in South Africa's Kruger National Park:


"Kruger Park Uber was fully operational this morning," Alan Plant joked on Facebook where he recently uploaded the footage. 'Hippo surfing' is actually a fairly common behaviour for Africa's herons, and the birds have regularly been spotted cruising the waters of Sunset Dam pompously perched on the backs of the water-dwelling mammals. While seemingly peculiar, the behaviour likely aids the fish-eating birds in landing a catch. Hippos provide mobile vantage points for the birds to scour the water for any potential meals.

Back in 2016, photographer Gerhard Geldenhuys captured a marvellous series of photos showing a grey heron launching a successful attack on a fish from it's hunting perch on the back of a hippopotamus. The bird even settled on the hippo's head to gobble down its fishy feast!

Widespread across much of southern Africa, grey herons (Ardea cinerea) are skilled hunters that feed mainly on fish, but will forage for everything from insects to small mammals. They usually hunt in the shallows, standing motionless on a rock or sandbank (or hippo) until prey drifts within reach. 

It seems that the herons of Sunset Dam have learned to utilise the lumbering hippos as a means to stealthily screen the water for potential meals. It's unclear if there's anything in it for the hippos, but the megaherbivores don't seem to mind their avian hitchhikers.

Another video of a hippo-riding heron filmed earlier this year at Kruger's Sunset Dam.